Author Archives: Brendan Holba

Cards In The Pros: June 19th Update

Kyle Funkhouser continues to dominate on the mound with 2 scoreless starts this week for the Erie Seawolves and he is really starting to look like one of the top prospects in the Tigers organization.   Matt Koch records another win after a quality start against the Mets in the desert. Lincoln Henzman dominates in 2 starts and is looking like he could be up for a promotion soon as well.

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Cards In The Pros: Post Draft Update

Nick Solak has a huge week for the Montgomery Biscuits, hitting 3 home runs and knocking in 8. Kyle Funkhouser was stellar again on the mound and seems to be hitting his stride in AA. Corey Ray had a powerful week in Biloxi with 4 doubles and a home run to go along with 6 RBI’s.  Lincoln Henzman dominated again with Kannapolis, striking out 6 in his most recent start.

The draft concluded last week and the Cardinals who were drafted between the 3 days are listed below. If and when they all sign and what levels they are assigned to as the summer progresses will continue to be updated in the coming weeks.  If any of these guys are contemplating on whether or not they want to return to the Ville they will have until the middle of July.
Weekly statistics are from the week of 6/5-6/11/2018

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Cards In The Pros: Early June Update

This is a big week for baseball teams all over the country, from high school up to the Big Leagues. The week of the first year player draft is always a time of hope for the future as well as a celebration of individuals and all of their hard work that propelled them to this moment.  This year only saw one Card taken on day 1. Josh Stowers went 54th overall to the Seattle Mariners. With 40 rounds in total there are a few more current Cards expected to be taken in the next couple of days and as their professional careers unfold we will be here to tell their stories.    

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Cards In The Pros: Memorial Day Update

Baseball and Memorial Day go hand in hand, just like hot dogs and apple pie and fireworks.  This is one of the best baseball weekends there are during the season. College baseball tournament championships are in full force, and on Memorial Day the field of 64 is set.

Congrats to the Cardinals on their 2 seed in the Lubbock regional. In the Big Leagues, each team is equipped with special uniforms and many guys are wearing custom cleats supporting the troops.  Adam Engel has had a great week with multiple hits for the White Sox, including his first long ball of the season. Former Dodgers first-round pick, Kyle Funkhouser has been sharp the last 3 weeks and looks like former All American and Collegiate National Team self.  

Weekly statistics are from the week of 5/22-5/27/2018

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Cards In The Pros: May 22nd Update

Corey Ray was on an absolute tear this week mashing home runs at an astonishing rate. At one point this week he had homered 4 times in 3 games for the Biloxi Shuckers. It has happened, Cole Sturgeon was promoted this past week to AAA and is now playing with the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Dean Kiekhefer was promoted to the Nashville Sound on the 19th and has continued to pitch well for the Oakland A’s since they signed him back on May 3rd. I know this has been heard for years now but Brendan McKay is putting up absolutely absurd numbers this season in the Rays farm system, he is certainly on the fast track to the Big Leagues at this pace.

Weekly statistics are from the week of 5/14-5/21/2018

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Cards In The Pros: Mid May Update

The time has come for Brendan McKay to continue his ascent towards Tampa.  The Rays #3 overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, was promoted to the A Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs of the Florida State League on Monday 5/14/2018.  There is the opportunity for a University of Louisville baseball reunion in the Rays organization at the AA level with the Montgomery Biscuits already having Grant Kay and Nick Solak on the roster. 

Another promotion included Indianapolis native Jared Ruxer to AA this week and is now pitches for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.  A different type of move involved Drew Harrington moving out of the bullpen and back into a starting role where he has put together two solid starts.  

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Cards In The Pros: May Update

Statistics are from 4/30-5/6/2018

What a weekend! The Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo, while wet and soggy in Kentucky, were still a good time.  Matt Koch has done something that hasn’t been done in 71 years, out dueling both Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw in consecutive starts.  Brendan McKay was incredible as well after he went 4.2 innings of hitless baseball on the mound and the next day driving in 5 RBI’s at the plate.

Oldham County’s very own Dean Kiekhefer was signed by the Oakland Athletics after being released by the Cincinnati Reds last week and was assigned to their AA team. Also at the AA level, Cole Sturgeon continues to dominate the competition putting up MVP type of numbers.  For the Montgomery Biscuits, Nick Solak is currently on a 6 game hitting streak. 

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Cards In The Pros: April Update

Matt Koch has continued to pitch well for the surging Arizona Diamondbacks who have not lost a series yet this season.  In his second consecutive start in the Big Leagues, Koch picked up the win and 4 strikeouts in another 6 inning start. Josh Rogers is continuing to dominate as he goes 7 innings of 2 hit baseball for Scranton-Wilkes Barre.  Cole Sturgeon in the Red Sox organization is on fire at the plate.

Lincoln Henzman has settled into the starting role nicely for the Kannapolis Intimidators, and Brendan McKay is continuing to be an incredible baseball player, both on the mound and at the plate.  

Statistics are from 4/22-4/29

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Baseball Cards In The Pros: 4/16 – 4/22

There were a couple of movers this week in the ranks as Matt Koch went up to the Big Leagues and started a game for the Arizona Diamondbacks twirling 6 solid innings of 2 hit baseball.

Male High School’s very own, Jeff Arnold was moved all the way up from A (advanced) to AAA in the Giants organization.  While the jury is still out on how the Tampa Bay Rays will utilize Brendan McKay at the Major League Level last years 4th overall pick is continuing to impress in the Midwest League. If you live in Bowling Green or can get there you should watch him play for the Hot Rods before his inevitable move up the minor league latter occurs.  Kade McClure continues to be the definition of consistency as he picked up 2 more wins this week with the Kannapolis Intimidators.

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Cards In The Pros: April 16th Update

It’s cold in the Midwest and New England, and probably a lot of places that it shouldn’t be on April 16th.  It’s hard to tell by the look of things outside but we are in fact about a month into Spring. The old saying goes April showers bring May flowers;  I wonder what April snow brings? Regardless of the weather, some of the Cardinal 9 Alumni are heating up.

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Inaugural Regular Season Update

The baseball season is officially upon us. Even though it is snowing in parts of the country and the Chicago Cubs home opener was postponed because of the snow, baseball is back!  

The Major Leagues have been back for over a week now and in the last few days the different levels of the Minor Leagues have kick started their seasons as well. Within the first week of the 2018 season five Cardinal 9 alumni were on Major League rosters and contributing to their teams. As the season continues look for more and more to make their way to the show as 12 others have begun this season in either AA or AAA.  

At the A level Blake Tiberi is back from injury and dominating the pitching in the early going and arguably the best college baseball player ever, Brendan McKay, is back and doing Brendan McKay things. Since the 2007 season the University of Louisville baseball team has become a collegiate juggernaut with an impressive pipeline into the professional ranks.  Kudos to Coach Mac and his staff, along with the hard work and determination of these individuals.

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Final Spring Training Update

Opening Day 2018 is now upon us.  In my opinion, it should be a national holiday; baseball is, after all, America’s past time. A lot of football fans may debate me on that and my argument would be to simply quote James Earl Jones’ monologue in “Field of Dreams.”   The game is a symbol of who we are deep down. Until the final, out is made everyone is given their due. There is no taking a knee to run out the clock in baseball.  This year on Opening Day there will be a few more Cardinal 9 Alumni gracing the diamond than there were at this time last year. A testament to the tremendous job Coach Mac has done and the outstanding work these guys have put in on their own.  

This week’s alumni spotlight shines on Cherokee, Iowa native Cody Ege. During his freshman year, Ege was cutting his teeth both in the outfield and on the mound as a two-way player, eventually making a full-time move to the bullpen.  He was not a major contributor during his first two years at Louisville and his future seemed uncertain. However, that all changed in the summer between his sophomore and junior years.  

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Spring Training Midpoint

At the midway point in this years, Major League Spring Training the transactions between the big league clubs and their minor league affiliates have begun in earnest as front offices and coaching staffs whittle down their spring training squads to the 25 man Opening Day rosters.  At this point, there are still multiple Cardinal 9 Alumni vying for that opening day spot.

While there are many Cardinal 9 Alumni in the professional ranks, a handful of others are beginning to grow the coaching tree at the collegiate and high school levels.  One, in particular, is Aaron Gershenfeld who serves as the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator at The Citadel. I had the pleasure of serving alongside Gersh for 3 great years before we both began our coaching adventures. Within the first minutes of meeting him, it was apparent that Gersh defined what it means to be a baseball guy.  The man eats, sleeps and breathes the game. During the few times, we worked the offseason camps at UofL together, I was witness to the development of a great teacher of the game of baseball.  That passion and ability to instruct hitters has led to tremendous success in his young coaching career. Gersh has worked with hitters at The Citadel, East Tennessee State, and Vanderbilt, with his teams putting up tremendous offensive numbers at each stop.

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Early 2018 Spring Training Update

(Via AdamLucas Designs)

Spring training is a great time for baseball.  New expectations, new hopes, young talent getting a chance to compete on the big stage in front of their team’s front office execs.  Baseball has laid dormant since the Huston Astros clinched the World Series, but tons of fields in Arizona and Florida are now spilling over with batting practice, bullpens and bunt coverages.  One, my favorite parts of spring training are the random numbers assigned to the non-roster guys.  These next few weeks will be the only time you see a guy wearing 68 pitching to a hitter wearing 79.   This spring there will be a few UofL Cardinal 9 alum wearing these random numbers throughout the spring.
Just before Spring Training started a three-team trade between the Yankees, the Rays, and the Diamondbacks was completed affecting Nick Solak.  Coming into this spring Solak was listed as the New York Yankees number 8 overall prospect in a very loaded system, particularly up the middle. Due to that congestion in the Yankees farm system this trade is actually great for Solak.  Now there is not as much as a logjam for him on his ascent to the Major Leagues.  As long as he continues to tear it up we should be seeing Solak and Brendan McKay in a Tampa jersey for a long time to come.   The latest update from the Rays has indicated that once the regular season begins he will be assigned to the AA Montgomery Biscuits with another UofL Alum, Grant Kay.

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A Tribute to Todd Esser

(Via AdamLucas Designs)

With the home opener today for the 2018 University of Louisville baseball team, there is a bit of a hole in the stands.  Not a literal hole, but a deeper, intangible one.  A hole that cannot be replaced, nor should it ever try to be filled.  I’m talking about Todd Esser, quite possibly the greatest fan of Cardinal baseball the University has ever seen.  That’s not to take away anything from Jim Patterson or the Jurich’s.  However, Todd Esser was on a different level of fandom.  

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